Radio Address to the
Nation on Soviet-United States Relations
November 1, 1986
like to talk with you for a few minutes about a cause that I know is as dear to
you as it is to me -- the cause of peace. America's at peace today, and
for any President that's cause for real satisfaction. Still, a President's job
is more than that -- it's to make the peace we enjoy today even more secure.
my meeting just 3 weeks ago with General Secretary Gorbachev in Reykjavik,
Iceland, the capital city of that island nation in the North Atlantic, I
believe that prospects for strengthening peace between our country and the
Soviet Union have become better than at any time in the last 40 years. Today I
want to tell you how we're building on what we accomplished there and what it
will take to make the most of the opportunities that opened up in these
discussions. We're pursuing agreements on some of the most vital issues of our
time, but success will depend -- as it should -- on your support and on that of
Iceland, Mr. Gorbachev and I
made major gains in addressing the many key issues in U.S.-Soviet relations.
For the first time, we came close to an historic agreement on dramatic
reductions in strategic nuclear weapons. For the first time, the Soviets talked
seriously about removing all intermediate-range missiles from Europe and doing it in a way
that would not threaten our Asian allies. And they accepted the principle that
human rights issues must be a permanent part of our dialog. It's no wonder that
some have said that we made more progress in those 2 days than negotiators for
our countries have made in the past 2 years toward true arms reductions. It's
no longer a matter of if we reach agreement; it's now a matter of when.
of the keys to our success in Iceland was our Strategic
Defense Initiative, SDI -- our program to find a way to defend against
ballistic missiles. SDI helped to bring the Soviets to the bargaining table,
and it will keep them there. SDI will help assure compliance and implementation
with eventual agreements, and it will provide a vital insurance policy for
peace in a world without ballistic missiles. As I've said many times in the
past week, no responsible President should rely solely on a piece of paper for
our country's safety. We know the record on Soviet treaty violations. We can
either have American technology as insurance for keeping us safe, or we can
rely on Soviet promises alone. Our technology and their promises each have
their own track record. And I'll take our technology any day.
Reykjavik, our negotiators at Geneva have made clear that,
as far as America is concerned,
everything that we proposed in Iceland is still on the table.
We're ready to move forward, for example, on achieving a 50-percent reduction
of both U.S. and Soviet strategic
forces in the next 5 years, on eliminating intermediate-range missiles in Europe, and on scrapping all
ballistic missiles on both sides in the next decade. To continue our dialog at
the highest level, I've asked Secretary of State Shultz to meet next week in
Vienna, on November 5th and 6th, with Soviet Foreign Minister Shevardnadze to
discuss these and other issues on our agenda. A spokesman for the Soviet
Government said last week that the meeting between Secretary Shultz and Mr.
Shevardnadze was an opportunity for continuing the Reykjavik talks. Well, we agree.
Every time our countries meet we have that opportunity. We will use this
meeting to solidify and advance the progress we made in Reykjavik.
as we build on Iceland -- whether in Vienna or Geneva or Washington, where our two
countries held talks on civil space cooperation this week -- let's not forget
why relations with the Soviets have come so far, so fast. A great deal of the
credit for this progress belongs to you, the American people. You've supported
our program to build America's strength. Today our
men and women in uniform have the best equipment and training available. And I
might add that our men and women in uniform are the best available, too. And I
know you join in my pride in them. America also firmly supports
the forces of freedom around the world, and we go to every negotiating table in
a position of strength. You know, as I look back on the last few weeks of
remarkable progress, I can't help remembering something Winston Churchill once
said. ``There is nothing,'' he said, ``for which the Soviets have less respect
than weakness, particularly military weakness, and nothing they admire so much as strength.'' Churchill's wisdom points to a simple
truth: that peace is strong today because America is strong.
the last few months, some in Congress tried to ignore that truth. They tried to
cut vital defense programs, including SDI, even as I was preparing to go to Iceland. I hope you'll let your
elected representatives know that that's not what you want, that you want to
continue to build a strong America so that, together, we
can continue to build a more peaceful, stable world.
next week, thanks for listening, and God bless you.
The President spoke at from the Century Plaza
Hotel in Los Angeles, CA.